Tag Archives: Green Belt

Castle Point Council remain on the Intervention “Naughty Step”, whilst other authorities stall and Protect Green Belt! Making an example of CPBC may come at a Cost!

Castle Point Council, having endured an uncomfortable Christmas, sat on the Government Intervention “Naughty Step”, continue to give no sign of any action they may, or may not, have been taking to put the Secretary of State, at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s, mind at rest that they have continued working hard on the CPBC Local Plan.

With the extended Christmas break for council officers and members, we can only assume that once the dreaded “phone call” from the Government chief planner is received, CPBC will by then have raised the White Flag of surrender above Runnymede Towers!

After all, the Local Development Scheme’s Timetable was more focussed on producing Any Local Plan on time, rather than a Good Local Plan! Sound familiar?

However, with the whole Country focussing on the Brexit position, now could be a very Bad Time to make an example of Castle Point Council. With local elections due in May it may be considered untimely for the Government to be seen to be criticising their colleagues within the Local Lead political group, particularly as some of their own members took such decisive action in opposing a Local Plan that proposed so much development on Green Belt!

Since the Local Plan process has been undertaken in Castle Point the current Lead group has maintained political control. Withdrawn Plans include the Core Strategy, the 2014 Plan and the 2016 Plan. Clearly some assistance may be required, but for the Government to make a move that could possibly unbalance the control of the council, would be interesting in the least.

Some public explanation as to what, if any, work has continued to be undertaken would be the least residents deserve, even if only a statement was released via the cpbc friendly Echo.

Meanwhile; The number of homes granted planning permission in England rose by two per cent in the year to the end of September, rising to 359,500.
“The latest Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statistics reveal a slight increase on the 352,000 homes securing permission in the same period last year.” Housing minister Kit Malthouse welcomed the cooperation between “builders, developers and councillors”, claiming that government reforms to the planning system are “starting to deliver the permissions we need to reach 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s”. Planningportal.co.uk

From this we can ascertain that secured Permissions do not equate to the number of dwellings delivered.

Probably, and more threateningly to Canvey Island, similar to the number of sites identified for release in the CPBC Local Plan, will not equate to the number of sites being developed on the mainland!

County Border News reports December 2018

“Tandridge district council said, the plan would be submitted “in advance of the introduction of a new government target, which would require the district to plan for 12,900 new homes or 645 homes per year”.
It added: “Based on the rural nature, environmental and landscape designations and the significant proportion of the district covered by Green Belt, the council believes the number of homes the local plan can deliver is 6,056, or 303 homes per year.

Whilst elsewhere in Greater Manchester, the local authority have also revised downwards the number of new homes needed, whilst also halving the proposed Green Belt Loss!

“Insiders say this was because the original document was planning for more homes than the region needed.
It also concentrates even more ‘high density’ development in Manchester and Salford – apartments, essentially – as well as in town centres such as Stockport and Bolton, in order to reduce the amount of protected green space under threat elsewhere.
Around 15 green belt sites have been removed from the plan altogether.

The total amount of green belt space under threat has roughly halved under the new plan” **

Whether Localism is to become an empty promise, or not, with other authorities performing equally, if not worse, than CPBC, for the Government to make an example of Castle Point Borough Council at this “sensitive” time, may well be at the price of an upset mainland community.

smiff

*more can be read HERE.

** more can be read HERE.

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No Place for Intimidation, Castle Point councillors were simply not convinced the Local Plan was acceptable or Fair. Time for an Inquiry into Behaviour!

It appears there have been reports, that following the Castle Point Council decision not to approve the draft 2018 Local Plan, certain councillor or councillors have been subjected to intimidation, basically for voting against a Local Plan they felt unacceptable.

Lead group councillors suggest they were allowed a free vote.

Firstly the chief executive made clear that in his view the Plan wasn’t for changing, and the vote must be in favour of adoption, solely to keep to a schedule set by Government.

The council leader repeated this warning as did his deputy, this was followed by many councillors stating they were between a “rock and a hard  place”, followed by the usual platitudes.

It may have been an easier passage for the Plan if rather than the sit and listen briefings, councillors from all sides had been invited to engage with the Government chief planner’s team and had some input into drawing up the Plan.

Some of the councillor’s input into the debate was nonsensical. Cllr Cole for instance explained his sympathy for the homeless people of Castle Point, families waiting to be housed. Then he went onto suggest that with Cllr smith’s inclusion of master planning developments identified for development ward councillors and residents would have influence on the density of the housing, less flats, more open spaces etc etc.

Master planning will come at a serious cost, most particularly at the likely expense of affordable and social housing!

Another councillor suggested in his 6 months of being in position he had studied and got to grips with the Local Plan process of Castle Point, all 12 years+ of it!

We have heard talk at National level of No Plan being better than a Bad Plan.

Luckily in a democracy we are allowed to say and vote accordingly, especially if we feel this is the case.

Perhaps some councillors felt that “Local Factors” still affect the cpbc Plan making process, it has before!

What the leadership and officers must remember is that they have solely been responsible for the debacle of a situation they have found  themselves in, they have voted in Favour of every single Plan put before the members and it was they that Failed the Duty to Cooperate test with the 2016 Plan, before that even reached examination stage.

For it to be claimed that the Lead group allowed a free vote on the Plan makes it all the worse that it appeared that one councillor was taken ill, possibly due to the pressure of the occasion, and another was left upset by remarks following the vote.

In a democracy it is peoples right to make up their own minds, and it is important they are allowed to do so without fear of recriminations.

Now it is important that those who have Failed us should not take the Lead should intervention occur.

The Gov. Chief Planner is fully capable of putting together an unbiased and neutral team of planners and examiners.

Perhaps this is what those so forcefully behind an approval vote fear the most.

Now following the recent posts leading up to Wednesdays meeting, we have encouraged participation through the comments column.

This time for many reasons there will be none allowed, as the saying goes, they will have to “suck it up!”

This Post is purely in appreciation of the councillors who took a brave decision in spite of the consequences and took the more difficult decision to vote, right or wrong, according to their consciences for what they felt was Right.

Those brave mainland and Island councillors are what makes this country what it is.

The rest of us must learn to live with it, or come up with a more convincing argument other than intimidation!

There is a very real case for an Inquiry into the Matter!

 

Come 2033, where will there be left to build, on Canvey Island? And the Entrapment of Castle Point Councillors

Residents of Canvey Island and of Castle Point may do well to not get their hopes up too high, where a change to the Local Plan 2018 is concerned.

Councillors, giving out signs of rebellion, are on thin ice.

As a Campaign group we took a cautious approach to the offer of involvement in a private meeting, with the cpbc leader and officers. We agreed to a combined meeting only, if it included the other Castle Point resident campaign groups, however this was rejected by the leader and therefore the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have remained outside of the Community Involvement part of the Local Plan process, for which we have been criticised locally!

The Council members appear not to have been quite so astute!

Unless of course we, the Residents, have been misled.

Councillors have suggested being denied input or influence on the 2018 Local Plan process and yet the Agenda paper indicates quite the opposite:

4.11 Members of the Council have been engaged in the development of the New Local Plan through a series of six Member Briefings commencing in July through to November and publication of this report.

Those Castle Point Residents looking for the councillors to vote to protect the Borough from indiscriminate development of Green Belt and green field land should prepare themselves for possible disappointment.

In the past, when given the opportunity to vote For or Against the adoption of, the Core Strategy, the 2014 draft Local Plan, and the 2016 Local Plan, with feigned deep foreboding and patronising regret, a Majority did so!

Why should we expect them to act any differently this time around?

Where Transport is concerned the CPBC Agenda paperwork indicates:

“it appears that there are likely to be capacity issues at some key junctions in Castle Point, with the Woodman’s Arms junction and the Tarpots junction most affected.”

Once again let’s not suggest there is any comparable issues that might be affecting Canvey Island!

The Local Plan 2018 includes these aspirations on Transport;

the following improvements and alterations to carriageway infrastructure in Castle Point will be delivered during the plan period to 2033:

a. A127 Growth Corridor Strategy;

b. Extension to Roscommon Way Phase 3;

c. Widening of Somnes Avenue;

d. Route improvements along the A129 Rayleigh Road between the RayleighWeir and Victoria House Corner junctions;

e. Dualling of the northern section of the A130 Canvey Way in the vicinity of Sadlers Farm;

f. Minor Junction improvements at both ends of Kenneth Road;
and

g. Highway improvements in Canvey and Hadleigh Town Centres.

2. During the period to 2033, the Council will also work with partners to secure the investment necessary to deliver a new or improved access to Canvey Island.

Any of these promises sound familiar?

Canvey Island can also look forward, despite the supposed Constraints on Development, to:

Land east of Canvey Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 300 new homes by 2033

Land west of Canvey Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 253 new homes and a residential care home by 2033

Land at Thorney Bay Road, Canvey Island is expected to deliver up to 600 new homes and a residential care home by 2033.

Land at Point Road, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 100 new homes by 2033.

Land at Walsingham House, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 32 new homes by 2033.

Land at the Admiral Jellicoe, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 40 new homes by 2033

Land south of Haron Close, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 10 new homes by 2033

Land at Haystack car park, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 14 new homes by 2033

Land at Kings Park, Canvey Island, as identified on the Policies Map, is allocated for residential purposes, to deliver up to 50 new homes by 2033.

That is of course not including all of the Business development sites at west Canvey, Flats in the Town Centre, the Haystack car park, the Job Centre, Tower Radio site, the old dairy, 125-127 High Street, Venables Close Out Patients Centre Long Road and Paddocks Community Centre land, Admiral Jellicoe etc that we have heard so much of, of late!

The question is, come 2033, where will there be left on Canvey Island to develop?

This should really bring into question, the morally corrupt method of application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island development sites, by Castle Point Council!

Add into the mix the concerns of Benfleet residents over the 900 dwellings proposed on Green Belt at Jotmans Farm and you can see the daily commute for those of us in the south of the Borough and, worse still, an Emergency Evacuation of Canvey Island, becoming a real issue!

Screenshot (22)

Canvey Residents, Local Plan 4,000 new Dwellings! A Must Attend Meeting, for US All! Make Your Councillor Aware of your feelings! Think the Paddocks and Jellicoe are bad, you wait until this Plan is implemented! Another fine Mess we are Left In!

Canvey Islanders, this time next week our Fate will have been decided!

A meeting to consider the CPBC Local Plan 2018 with sites identified for 4,000* new dwellings, and the release of vast tracts of Green Belt and green field sites will have been held and a decision made!

Benfleet Residents will be mobilised to attend the meeting on the 28th November to influence their councillors.

Canvey Island Residents should be prepared to do the same!

Details of the meeting are below.

Cllr Smith and the Chief Executive of CPBC will be giving the Green Light to developers in areas such as the Dutch Village cornfields, the Triangle, the Paddocks, Thorney Bay and Jotmans farm!

This decision will have a fundamental affect on our daily lives if allowed to happen!

Whether your current concerns are the daily Traffic Congestion, the removal of the Rapid Response Vehicle, the NHS “reorganisation” in our area, access to Doctors, Schools, the loss of Green Fields, Flooding of our Homes, be certain that if our Councillors vote to Approve the Local Plan as it stands, these issues will intensify!

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

As it was explained in the previous POST the threat of Intervention may not be quite as bad as portrayed by cllr smith and ceo marchant. Certainly the removal of local input, was exaggerated.

Back in June Castle Point councillors were threatened by the effects of Intervention and the benefits of CPBC retaining control of the Local Plan;

By the cpbc ceo: with intervention “Council with no say over Plan making locally, and no influence over the outcome”

By Cllr smith said: “keeping the plan making process in members control is of paramount importance for cllrs and residents to keep control of the shaping of our future Borough.” “Green Belt assessment a set process and promised member involvement in that process.

“By cllr Stanley: “give confidence to the gov minister that he can leave the job safely in our hands.”

I wonder how worse it could have been?

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

Part of the Local Plan is to consider Constraints against development. Across the Borough Green Belt is a major Policy Constraint against development.

On Canvey Island, in particular, a second major Constraint is Flood Risk. CPBC have consistently used Flood Risk as a Constraint against development Housing Numbers across the Borough.

Where Flood Risk actually threatens, on Canvey Island, the Constraint is Not applied to development. In effect the Borough Housing Supply Numbers are reduced, but not on Canvey Island specifically.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

The population of Castle Point increased over the previous Census Period 2001 -2011 by just 1.6%.

However, the distribution of this increase is interesting, Canvey Island, where Flood Risk is an Actual Threat, was 2.6% up, whilst the Mainland saw just a 0.8% increase!

We covered this in more detail HERE.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

With the development of Jotmans Farm, of 900 dwellings, comes a Link Road, wait for it, ONTO CANVEY WAY !

The intention is to form a junction from west Benfleet to meet Canvey Way halfway along.

Canvey Island Commuters will only have to envisage the effects of traffic having priority from the right at junctions to imagine how this will effect the Island!

It is clear this Local Plan 2018 is a Bad Plan.

We must Urge our Councillors to actively Vote Against this Local Plan, even if Intervention is the only option.

At least the possibility of a Neutral view on development distribution may be applied, rather than this biased version!

A list of our CPBC councillors contact details can be found HERE.

The Local Plan meeting to decide where and when development across Canvey Island will take place Wednesday 28th November start 7.30pm at Council Chamber, Kiln Road, Thundersley, Benfleet, Essex, SS7 1TF.

*mainland residents group claim.

Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

Letter from the Ministry. Intervention and the Castle Point Local Plan – have Councillors been duped? Perhaps this Letter warrants a read before they decide!

So, just how Scarey, would Government Intervention in the Castle Point Local Plan, actually be?
Cllr Smith and the cpbc chief executive paint the move by Government as being close to an Armageddon for the Borough!

The latest word from the Mainland is that 400 new Houses will be built in Castle Point, every year of the new Local Plan2018!

This contrasts to the 2014 Local Plan, on which cpbc officers felt confident that 200 dwellings per Annum, would be an acceptable number of new houses.

You will be aware that cpbc councillors, voted down that version of the Local Plan in protest that the 200 dwellings was too high a number!
Now, just 4 years later CPBC have fallen foul of the Duty to Cooperate requirement, had the 2016 Plan Withdrawn, received a warning Letter from the Government’s Secretary of State, and been offered the option of facing Government Intervention or adopt a strict schedule to produce a Local Plan2018 supposedly under the evil eye of the Government Chief Planner.

The cpbc chief executive informed councillors that under Intervention, there would be no Input from our elected councillors!

This is strange. I contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, to clarify if local input was definitely excluded, as the cpbc chief executive had informed.

The response, perhaps councillors should bother to read and then question, is below!

Screenshot (21)_LIStrange what you can learn, by asking a question!

How NOT to Build Cross Community Consensus, the Castle Point Way! A Joint meeting with Canvey and Mainland Residents apparently “Not Effective”!

Embracing the spirit of localism, a small contingency of Canvey Island and Benfleet community representatives, collectively requested an opportunity to discuss their Development concerns, with Castle Point Council leader, Cllr Smith.

smiff

Residents having recognised that the loss of Castle Point Green Belt sites, that are in close proximity, will have a cumulative impact on the local environment.

Unfortunately, seemingly wishing to avoid a combined group meeting, made up of the Dutch Village and Jotmans Farm Green Belt sites campaigners, the leader of CPBC, succeeds in promoting the perception, that communities from Canvey Island and Benfleet are being kept separate for an ulterior motive!

Local communities in this part of the Borough are clearly best placed to recognise that local and main roads are struggling to cope with the demands of today’s traffic, let alone the additional traffic brought about by the proposed large scale indiscriminate development.

The same communities are also best placed to understand how their health and wellbeing issues are directly linked to road traffic pollution and how their day to day functional requirements are already overstretched.
It was not unreasonable of us, to seek an open forum with cllr Smith, so as not to allow local campaigners to meet the leader in more “private” circumstances.

It may appear advantageous for residents with localised green belt site interests, seemingly at risk of development through the new Local Plan, to engage with cllr Smith via individual one to one meetings, however this may encourage the return to the problematic Local Factoring, that has blighted and festered mistrust, through previous versions of the CPBC Local Plan!

Having rejected the opportunity of bringing the community of Castle Point together, Cllr Smith has disingenuously failed to meet his communities public consultation expectations.

CPBC recognises that one of the key risks to the successful production of its Local Plan and its Policies is the possibility it would attract significant public opposition. This particular threat level has been scaled as “HIGH”, and mitigation measures were needed, in the face of Residents opposition to the Local Plan, to prevent slippage in the programmed time scale, raising the perceived Fear of Government Intervention.

CPBCs documented that:-
“The Local Plan will tackle contentious issues that could give rise to significant public opposition. Whilst every effort will be made to build cross community consensus, there remains risk of significant public opposition to the Local Plan proposals”

Cllr Smiths determination to meet with individual Green Belt groups in isolation contradicts this commitment.

Remember, Remember, the 28th of November! Intervention and Plot, Canvey and the mainland set to lose tracts of Green Belt!

This month, Canvey Island and Castle Point Borough Council face the prospect of Government Intervention, over the local authority’s Local Plan!

This Plan, to be voted on by local councillors on the 28th November in the council chamber Runnymede is Crucial to where between 4,000 – 5800 new houses will be allocated.

Should the Councillors refuse to Approve a new Local Plan identifying sites to accommodate these numbers the Government will step in and select the sites.

Those councillors that oppose Government Intervention, but support Green Belt protection, will have a dilemma come the vote.

CPBC chief executive will stress how worse it would be via intervention.

Councillors must ask themselves, could it have been any worse than what the proposed Plan is, anyway?

Either way they have, apparently, no input!

Previously the cpbc chief executive issued the warning to councillors that Intervention will be a catastrophe of seismic proportion for Castle Point Council.

Councillors themselves, chiefly the Lead Group, voted to trust the council leader and senior officers to chose development sites, including apparently precious Green Belt, and produce a Local Plan.

Now we learn that development is coming to many parts of the Borough!

Will Councillors and Residents give up the Fight

All I can say is,

“what were they thinking”?

cpbc

Runnymede Towers